How to: Hide Files on Any Phone or Computer

 

 

 

By David Nield of Gizmodo

If you’ve got something you want to hide away, then you’ve got plenty of options on Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS—options that we’ll run through here. Even if the kids or a stranger should get access to your devices somehow, these files will stay hidden from view and locked away.

Before we get started, though, we should note that while the solutions below will provide a measure of privacy from a casual user who nabs your device, they aren’t all necessarily going to protect your files from a hacker or someone else with expertise.

 

Android

When it comes to files on mobile devices, those files are usually photos or videos—your other files are likely to be stored in the cloud, not on your device. To hide an image in Google Photos for Android, long-press on it then tap the menu button (three vertical dots) and pick Archive. The photo can still be dug out of the archive, but it does give your sensitive photos some level of protection from the casual browser.

If you’re on a Samsung phone, the default gallery app does a bit of a better job at keeping any photos or videos you want private kept safe. Select the photos and videos you want to hide, tap the menu button (three vertical dots), then pick Move to Secure Folder—enter the folder PIN, and the content gets moved over. No one else can get into that Secure Folder without the PIN.

For something a bit more comprehensive, try Keepsafe: It creates a PIN-protected digital vault on your phone for those photos and videos that you really don’t want other people coming across. Getting files into the vault is easy, or you can take your photos and videos from inside Keepsafe instead.

Also worthy of a mention is Vaulty, which works in a similar way but makes the process of getting photos and videos in and out of your digital locker even easier. Remember that if you’re using Google Photos as your gallery, you’ll still need to delete the originals, otherwise they’ll just get shown from the cloud (which the likes of Keepsafe and Vaulty don’t touch).

File Hide Expert covers any type of file and is very straightforward to use—it simply gives you access to the file and folder structure on your phone, lets you select the content you want hidden, and then hides it. The interface is rather rudimentary, but if you want something basic that works for any type of file, it’s a good option.

There is actually another trick you can use on Android using a file manager like ES File Explorer: Put an empty text file called .nomedia inside any folder with images you don’t want to show up in the default gallery app (though they’ll still appear in the file manager). In fact Android will ignore any folder that starts with a period. It’s a rather fiddly solution, but it might suit some of you.

IOS

The iOS file system is even more locked down than Android of course, so you’re unlikely to have files floating around that you don’t want people to see that aren’t photos or videos. There is the new Files app, that shows your iCloud Drive files (if you’ve got any), but there are no options for hiding files here.

You can however hide photos and videos from the iOS Photos app to keep them away from prying eyes that aren’t yours: Open the file in question, tap the Share button (bottom left), then choose Hide. That removes the photo or video from Moments, Years, and Collections, though someone could still browse to the Hidden album in the Albums section of the app, so it’s not all that secure.

We’ve already spoken about hiding photos and videos in Google Photos, and the process is the same for Google Photos for iOS. Tap and hold on one or more files, tap the menu button (three horizontal dots), and choose Archive. This hides the pictures or clips from the front screen of the app, though they can still be found from the Archive entry in the menu (and still show up in albums and search).

One other option is to put photos inside Notes (though this doesn’t work for videos). First you need to set up a password in the Notes section of the iOS Settings app, then you can open any note, tap the Share button (top right) and choose Lock Note. You’ll also need to remove the photo you’ve added from the main Photos app.

If you need to hide files from specific apps, your best bet is looking inside that app to see what options are available. Dropbox, for example, can be passcode protected from its internal settings screen: Tap Account then the cog icon, and choose Passcode Lock to prevent anyone from getting into your files.

We’ve come across a number of handy third-party options too, including Private Photos Calculator and Private Photo Vault, which protect your sensitive snaps and clips with a PIN code. You can capture photos and videos inside the apps, or import them from the Camera Roll, but if you take the latter option you also need to them delete the pictures from the iOS Photos app.

Windows

Windows has a file hiding tool built right into it, as you might already know: Right-click on any file or folder, choose Properties, then tick the box marked Hidden and click OK. That’s it—your chosen file or folder is no longer visible in File Explorer.

Unless the person who’s gained access to your computer is clever enough to display hidden files, that is. The setting can be toggled right from the View tab of the ribbon menu—the Hidden items entry on the right. You can set files and folders to be hidden from this menu too, via the Hide selected items button.

If you think that’s enough protection to foil any would-be lurkers—that they won’t know Windows well enough to display hidden files—then you’re already all set. On the other hand, if you want to take your hiding file techniques to the next level, you’ll need some help from a third-party app, and there are quite a few to pick from.

Of the ones we’ve tested, Wise Folder Hider Free impressed us the most with its ease-of-use and feature set. You can just drag and drop folders on top of the program interface, and they disappear from File Explorer as if by magic. A password is then required to get into the application. If you want encryption as well, you can upgrade to the Pro version for $19.95.

We were also impressed by My Lockbox, which is also available in free and Pro versions (the latter lets you protect an unlimited number of folders). Again, one password protects access to the program, and it’s perfect for just hiding a single folder away rather than a bunch of files or folders.

Another option is to wrap up all the files you want to hide away in a compressed archive, and then put a password on that archive that blocks unauthorized access. 7-Zip is one free tool that can do this for you, though someone else could still see and delete the archive unless you added one of the hiding options we mentioned above.

MacOS

When it comes to Mac computers, the cleanest and simplest native option is to use the Terminal app, which you can launch from Spotlight (Cmd+Space). Type “chflags hidden file-or-folder-path” then Enter to hide something, and “chflags nohidden file-or-folder-path” and Enter to bring it back. If you like you can type out the command then drag and drop a file or folder into the Terminal window before hitting Enter (just remember the path so you can bring it back).

Various third-party options will take care of the task for you as well. Hide Folders does exactly what it says on the tin, and you simply drag and drop in files and folders from Finder and then click the Hide button. Anyone who launches Hide Folders can see what you’ve hidden though, so you might want to add password protection, which is a $20 upgrade for the Pro version.

Secret Folder does almost exactly the same job, though the interface is a little cleaner and easier on the eyes. Again, you can simply drag and drop folders into the program window to hide them, then toggle the Invisible/Visible switch accordingly. The application costs $20, but a free trial is available.

Hider is a more comprehensive solution that’s again is priced at $20 and again lets you give the software a trial run for free. In addition to hiding selected files and folders, your data is also encrypted, and you’ve got some useful extras thrown in as well (like support for external hard drives). Files can be shown or hidden using simple toggle switches, with everything protected by a master password.

If it’s particular apps that you want to block, then Cisdem AppCrypt might fit the bill for you. You can specify apps (or websites) to password protect, so anyone who gains access to your Mac won’t be able to run programs containing information you don’t want seen. It costs $20 a year, with a free trial available.

Going back to photos, if all you want to do is hide images and video clips, you can use the same options (with the same caveats) as we talked about for iOS. From the Photos app, right-click on an image and choose Hide Photo. This removes it from the main photo stream, but considering the Hidden album is only a click away on the left-hand navigation pane, it’s not the most effective solution.

 

How do keep your private stuff private on your device(s)? Tell us in the comments below!

App of the Week: Malwarebytes

 

 

 

By
Neil J. Rubenking of PCMag

There’s something strange ‘neath your PC’s hood. Antivirus failed, and it don’t look good. Who ya gonna call? Malwarebytes! For many years, Malwarebytes has been the go-to solution when other antivirus products drop the ball. It’s been a few years since the program’s last update. During that time, the company has focused a lot of its energy on preventing pcs from getting infested with malware in the first place, but Malwarebytes 3.0 Free is still available to clean up malware’s messes. It’s still an excellent tool, although it didn’t perform as well as the last version in my testing.

The main reason version 3.0 took so long was a total makeover of Malwarebytes 3.0 Premium$39.99 at Malwarebytes. That product now includes all the various scanning and detection technologies that previously represented separate products. Ransomware protection is built in. Exploit protection is no longer a separate product. Real-time protection watches for known malware and for malicious behaviors, and Web protection steers you away from dangerous sites. With all these layers of protection, Malwarebytes now promotes the premium edition as a suitable replacement for your existing antivirus, though it’s also designed to work alongside other products. I’ll review the premium edition shortly.

The main window of the free software looks quite a bit different from that of the previous version. A simple menu runs down the left side, and a right-hand panel reports protection status. All of the premium features are listed, but disabled and marked “Premium Only.” The dashboard tab reports your security status, with a big button to launch a scan. The layout is still simple and straightforward. Most days, you’ll just load it up and click the Scan button.
Little to Learn From Lab Results

According to my contact at the company, Malwarebytes is designed to whip malware, not to pass tests. For example, if a particular sample has zero recent sightings among the horde of Malwarebytes users, the company may remove its signature, to keep the product nimble. A test that uses that dated sample will make the product look bad. Malwarebytes deliberately doesn’t participate in testing by most of the labs that I follow for that reason.

In addition, the tests available when a new product comes out are almost invariably based on the previous version of the product. That’s not so bad for products undergoing slow evolution, but the big changes in the latest version mean that the paltry results we do have may not be meaningful.

West Coast Labs awarded checkmark certification to the previous version of Malwarebytes Premium. Note that this lab works with vendors who don’t pass certification, so that they eventually succeed. It’s a different model from the labs that assign ratings to products based on their success rate.

MRG-Effitas takes a tough stance with its all-types malware test. A product that completely prevents every single sample from installing on the test system earns Level 1 certification. A product that lets some samples install, but remediates almost all of them within 24 hours gets Level 2 certification. All others fail, and there’s no distinction between missing all samples and missing just a couple. Cleanup-only products don’t have the opportunity to block installation, but if the on-demand scan completely remediates the malware, they earn Level 1 certification.

Along with three less well-known products, Kaspersky took Level 1 certification. Five other products managed Level 2. Almost half of the products failed to reach even Level 2 certification, Malwarebytes among them. Digging in to the test data behind the certification, I found that while the other three cleanup-only products received Level 1 certification, Malwarebytes failed to remove 40 percent of the samples.

That doesn’t sound great, but there’s just not enough information to assign an aggregate lab score to Malwarebytes. Even if I had more data, with the major update in version 3 I couldn’t swear the result would still be valid.

Four of the five labs I follow include Kaspersky Anti-Virus$29.99 at Kaspersky Lab in their testing, and its aggregate lab score is an impressive 10 of 10 possible points. Norton earned 9.7 points, based on tests by three labs. And Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2017$19.99 at Bitdefender, tested by all five labs, averaged 9.3 points.

Diminished Malware Protection

 

The free edition of Malwarebytes is a cleanup-only product, with no real-time malware protection. My usual malware blocking test is no use for such a product. And yet, with no real help from the independent labs, I had to do something to see the product in action. To that end, I launched the samples in batches, gave each batch time to finish installing, and then launched Malwarebytes to clean up the mess.

Giving the samples time to run proved a bit problematic. One ransomware sample had time to do its dirty deeds before the scan removed it. There’s nothing a cleanup-only product could do to prevent that. Unfortunately, it encrypted the data file used by my program that checks for known traces of my set of samples. That’s awkward, but of course I had a backup.

After each batch of malware samples, I ran my hand-coded detection tool to verify that the malware traces were present. Then I ran a standard Threat Scan with Malwarebytes. On my test system, this scan routinely finished in two minutes or less. In almost every case, it requested a reboot after the scan, to complete the cleanup process. After reboot, I ran my detection tool again to see what the cleanup did.

The results were disappointing. F-Secure and Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus$18.99 at Webroot detected 100 percent of these samples in my malware-blocking test, and Webroot completely eliminated all of them, scoring a perfect 10.
Malwarebytes didn’t even recognize 33 percent of the samples. My contact at Malwarebytes pointed out that if the samples are old and no longer in the wild, Malwarebytes won’t necessarily catch them. I obtained all of the samples from live malware-hosting URLs earlier this year, but looking at the details I did find that some of them had originated several years ago.

On the plus side, Malwarebytes completely wiped all traces for 44 percent of the samples. For another 13 percent, it detected and removed some of the traces, but left behind some executable files. The samples in the remaining 10 percent are the ones that bother me the most. In these cases, I found executable files in the quarantine list that were still present in their original form. I pored over the logs, verifying that Malwarebytes thought it removed them. My company contact couldn’t immediately explain this behavior.

Mitigating Factors

Like the lab tests disdained by Malwarebytes, my hands-on test doesn’t precisely simulate the product’s actual use-case. Normally you’d bring in Malwarebytes to handle an infestation that got past your existing antivirus, or that prevented installation of a more traditional antivirus. The aggressive behaviors and technologies that such an infestation requires should be a red flag for Malwarebytes. A less-dangerous sample that’s manually loaded on a test system doesn’t raise the same concerns.

Even so, the product has fared better in the past. Several years ago, I ran a test that challenged Malwarebytes and other products to remove entrenched malware from a dozen badly-infested systems. At that time, Malwarebytes outscored all competing products, with an overall detection rate of 89 percent. I hope that the current version proves effective against such real-world threats. But I can’t demonstrate that as a fact.

Keep It in Your Toolbox

All things considered, Malwarebytes 3.0 Free remains a very useful tool, despite the issues I uncovered in testing. If you carry a thumb drive full of tools, it should definitely be one of them. But remember, use it along with Bitdefender, Kaspersky, McAfee AntiVirus

Plus$19.99 at McAfee, or another antivirus that provides real-time protection. Bring it out when the going gets tough for your regular antivirus, or consider going for the full-scale protection of the premium edition.

In this modern world of ransomware and data-stealing Trojans, a cleanup-only antivirus can never be your first line of defense. You need layers and layers of protection, like what you get with the premium edition of Malwarebytes. I’m no longer declaring an Editors’ Choice award for cleanup-only antivirus, though Malwarebytes remains my first choice.

Malwarebytes is available for Windows, Android and Mac OS.

 

What Malware protection do you use on your device(s)? Sound off on the comments below!

Tips & Tricks: 6 Gmail tips, tricks, and hacks to help you master your email

 

 

 

By Nicole Gallucci of Mashable

Have you ever accidentally sent a damning email to someone that you intended to save for the rest of time as a draft? Or made a friend audibly gasp at the sight of thousands of unread email notifications on your phone? Perhaps you’ve run out of storage space on your drive entirely and are paying actual money for more. If so, you’re not alone, but you do need some major Gmail guidance.

The first step to mastering Gmail is admitting you’re not that great at it. You’re here reading this so you’ve done that already. Good. The second step is studying this handy list of Gmail tips, tricks, and hacks that I’ve complied just for you. Easy.

These six tips will teach you the ins and outs of un-sending messages, customizing your account, staying in the loop on the latest updates, and more. You’ll be a Gmail show-off making the most of your account before you know it.

 

1. Save some valuable space

There are two types of people in this world: those with zero un-read messages in their inbox and those with thousands.
If you’re a member of the latter group maybe that works for you, or perhaps you’ve simply lost control of your inbox and are now on the verge of losing sleep at night, just praying that an easy way to free up space in your Gmail account existed.
Okay, let’s not get dramatic. Decluttering that mess might seem impossible but it’s doable. We promise.

Search and delete

Gmail search allows you to specifically filter your messages to locate and delete by sender, file size, attachments, YouTube videos, or other links. Simply type a command into the search bar followed by the key words you’re looking for (ex: “from:mashable”) and Gmail will locate all related emails for you to review and potentially delete.

To start, you might consider searching for larger MP3 or video files to delete — but even if you don’t have any specifics in mind definitely make use of the file size search operator. You can type in “larger:3m” to search files over 3MB and so on and so forth. You can also wipe messages by date range. Typing “older_than:5y” will show all messages older than five years ago, which you can then select, trash at once, and pretend they never existed. 👍 Perfect.

If manual search operators aren’t your thing there’s always the more advanced drop-down search menu.

You can find Gmail’s full list of search operators here, along with search methods that may not have even crossed your mind.

2. Enable ‘Undo Send’ and breathe a sigh of relief

Gmail’s potentially life-saving “Undo Send” feature was introduced in 2015 so you’ve probably heard of it, but if you’re not sure how to enable it it’ll unfortunately be useless to you.

To do so, simply click on the settings gear in the upper right-hand corner of your Gmail account. Select “Settings” from the drop-down menu and check the box labeled “Enable Undo Send.” You’re then given the option to set a “send cancellation period” of either 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds.

Obviously choose 30 seconds, you know, because not everyone always realizes they made a horrible mistake RIGHT AWAY. (Why does a five second option even exist?)
Share Quote

 

3. Organize your inbox for maximum efficiency

Are you an email hoarder who refuses to delete messages? That’s okay, but if you’re going to keep thousands of emails you might want to organize them to make things less hectic. Labels and categories are your friends, but they each serve different purposes. Here’s the deal:

Labels:

Labels are sort of like folders, but the good thing is you can add multiple labels to a single email. To choose or create new labels open an email and click the label tab next to the “More” option above the message.
Once selected the labels will show up beside the email subject. Clicking on them will allow you to see all messages with that same label.

Once new labels are made, they ‘ll show up in the menu list on the left hand side of your account where you can edit and color code for extra customization.

 

Categories:

If you want to separate your emails before you open Gmail take advantage of inbox category tabs. These will sort your emails based on subject matter like “Social” or “Promotions,” so not every message shows up on the homepage.

 

To enable inbox categories go to Settings > Inbox and select “Default” inbox type. Then you can choose which categories you want to use, but be aware you’ll have to have less than 250,000 emails in your inbox for it to work

 

 

4. Personalize your account

While you’re staring at Gmail for hours at work don’t you ever wish it would better reflect your personality? Email is boring as hell, so for the love of your tired, strained eyes please take some time to add flair and color to your account.

⭐ All the stars ⭐

In the email world a yellow star generally signifies a message is important, but by utilizing all the stars and symbols Gmail offers you can use the shapes to organize emails into groups.

To choose which stars you have at your disposal go to the Stars section in the Settings tab. You can choose to use one, four, or all 12 symbols. (Don’t forget to save your settings changes at the bottom of the page.)

Starring an email highlights it and includes it in the “Starred” label, but enabling different colored stars makes it even easier to perform specific searches. For example, if you’re looking for emails with purple stars you can type “has:purple-star” in the search bar and voila.

To access the different colored symbols simply continue clicking the yellow star until you reach the one you want.

Custom themes:

Anyone who’s ever been to a themed party knows themes are a blast, and in this case they have the power to transform an otherwise dull but very necessary communication tool into a low-key enjoyable thing to look at. To choose a theme you can browse some of the lovely options under the drop-down settings gear (island getaway, crunchy leaves, light blue, etc.) or upload your own photo to get even more personal.

 

5. Reclaim your time

No one wants to spend their day navigating Gmail, so here are some hot time-saving tips that will let you get back to Twitter, Facebook, and uh, work, I guess, sooner.

 

Send personalized mass emails

Ain’t nobody got time to individually personalize the exact same email for multiple people… until now. Thanks to a nifty Chrome extension called Mail Merge for Gmail you can send personalized emails to a mass group of recipients at one time.
After downloading the add-on simply create a spreadsheet in Google Drive, then go to Add-ons > Mail Merge and Scheduler > Create Merge Template to make the spreadsheet merge-able. To add recipients either import from your Google Contacts on input the info manually.

Learn more about using Mail Merge here.

Schedule emails like a magician

Another great thing about Mail Merge is it has a built-in scheduler that you can use to send out emails at later dates or times.

Boomerang for Gmail is another service that lets you schedule emails to send ahead of time, and is especially great if you want to get a jump-start on work or simply want to ensure you don’t forget to send something. You can also set reminders for yourself to follow up on messages, which is something everyone could benefit from.

Learn those sweet sweet keyboard shortcuts

Hotkeys have the potential to change your Gmail life, but before you master them make sure they’re all turned on by going to Settings > Keyboard Shortcuts > On.
Once that’s done you’ll have access to dozens of helpful key combinations that will make formatting text, chatting, navigating your account, participating in Hangouts, and much more seem like a breeze.

Google has a complete list of keyboard shortcuts, but you can also type a “?” when Gmail is open to make another list appear.

6. Stay up to date on Gmail news

Gmail is always improving and changing, so one of the best ways to keep up is to test new features while they’re still in beta.

You may be unaware of Gmail Labs, which allows you to do just that. It’s the hub for all things in the experimental stage, which can occasionally become permanent parts of the mailing system. You can test out and enable all sorts of fun features by visiting the Labs tab in Settings. Just don’t get too attached because they could wind up disappearing on you.

And if you’re really afraid of getting Gmail FOMO you can follow Gmail’s official blog for the latest news and updates. (Also, maybe consider closing your laptop and hanging out with some friends IRL because Gmail FOMO should not be a ~thing~).

 

Do you have any tips for using Gmail? Tell us about them in the comments below!

How to: create a full system backup in Windows 10.

It’s an oldie but goodie: Creating a system image of your Windows 10 PC in case your hard drive goes belly up and you need to recover your files, settings and apps.

BY Matt Elliott of CNet

It’s been around since Windows 7 ($22.95 at Amazon.com), and Microsoft hasn’t touched it since. You won’t find it in the Settings app where you likely first turn when you need to perform a bit of system maintenance on your PC. Instead, it’s hiding out in the the old Windows Control Panel. What it is is the ability to create a full system backup, which you can use to restore your PC should it fail, become corrupted or otherwise stop operating smoothly.

Because the tool to create a system image is somewhat buried in Windows 10 ($149.00 at Amazon.com), let’s shine a light on where it’s located and how to use it.

Steps to create a backup system image

1. Open the Control Panel (easiest way is to search for it or ask Cortana).
2. Click System and Security
3. Click Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

4. Click Create a system image in the left panel
5. You have options for where you want to save the backup image: external hard drive or DVDs. I suggest the former, even if your computer has a DVD-RW drive, so connect your external drive to your PC, select On a hard disk and click Next.

 

 

6. Click the Start backup button.

 

After the system image is created, you’ll be asked if you want to create a system repair disc. This puts your image on a CD or DVD, which you can use to access the system image you created if your PC won’t boot. Don’t worry if your laptop doesn’t have a CD or DVD drive; you can skip this step and boot the system from the system image on your external hard drive.


How do you back up your computer(s)? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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